London is certainly well off for amazing department stores. Most need no introduction and each offers an incredible array of different goods on offer. In fact, for some even carrying one of their bags with the fabled logo is the epitome of shopping in London.
So, without further ado – here is our ultimate guide to the top 7 London department stores:
Harrods, naturally, has to head the list – probably being the world’s most famous department store of all. Located in trendy Knightsbridge, Harrods boasts that there is nothing in the world that you can’t purchase here: If they don’t stock it, they’ll find it for you.
The store has the motto, ‘Omnia Omnibus Ubique’ – which translates to ‘all things for all people, everywhere’.
From its small beginnings in a single room in 1849, Charles Henry Harrod was a modest shopkeeper selling tea and groceries. Thirty years later the shop was already a department store for some of London’s wealthiest population.
It became a PLC in 1889 and remained that way until the sale to the infamous Mohammed Al Fayed and his brother purchased the store for an eye watering £615 million pounds.
However, his purchase was well founded, and in 2010 he sold Harrods to the Qatari royal family for £1.5 billion pounds.
Any visit to the store has to include a walk around the wonderful food hall, where delicacies from all over the globe are available to purchase.
Despite hitting the news many times over the years for various reasons, Harrods has remained the ultimate shopping experience for anyone visiting London.
Liberty was born in 1875 when founder Arthur Lasenby Liberty borrowed £2,000 to set up his Regent Street store. His whole vision was to create an Eastern Bazaar in London, and he dedicated his work to change how the British purchased fashion and home ware.
His idea was so successful that he repaid his initial loan within 18 months, purchasing more real estate to expand.
Today, Liberty is known for selling an eclectic selection of home ware and fashion pieces from around the world. In addition, the store offers a wonderful in-house collection of furniture and objets d’art.
The interior of the store is a higgledy piggledy jumble of rooms, staircases and corridors – making it feel more like a stately home than a department store. A real shopping experience!
3. Fortnum and Mason
The Queen’s Grocers, Fortnum and Mason, this four-storey department store is glamorous shopping at its best.
The store is famous for its hampers, food and wonderful china dinner services, as well as anything else you can think of that’s related to dining.
However, in 1984, the store sold – for one Christmas only – the charity record, Do They Know It’s Christmas, raising money for the cause.
4. Harvey Nichols
This eight-floor metropolis will keep even the most die-hard of shoppers happy. The store boasts that it sells everything necessary for a luxury international lifestyle – and from fashion to home ware, it certainly does just that.
The store began life in 1831 as a linen shop on Sloane Street in London, the creation of Benjamin Harvey.
The shop became known as Harvey Nichols in 1850, after its founder died and left the store to his wife. She duly went into partnership with James Nichols, and the name we know the store by today was born.
In the UK this saw shops in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester, and today there are some international stores too: Two in Turkey, one in Dubai, one in Saudi Arabia, one in Kuwait and two in Hong Kong. In 2017 another store is due to open in Qatar.
A list wouldn’t be complete without the iconic Selfridges included. And with good reason… The store opened in 1909, and since its inauguration has been known for being a ‘one-stop-shop’ for virtually all shopping needs.
Harry Gordon Selfridge was a Chicago born gentleman who relocated to London in 1906, with a dream of opening the ultimate department store.
He certainly succeeded, with Selfridges having been voted the Best Department Store in the World by the Global Department Store no less than 3 times!
From fashion to food (check out the awesome food hall), home ware to pet accessories, Selfridges really is the ultimate all round shopping experience.
It’s a strange fact that the world famous, Fenwick, on Bond Street, didn’t begin in London. In fact, the store didn’t start life in London at all, but in the North East of England in Newcastle upon Tyne.
1882 saw ambitious shop worker, John James Fenwick, open up his store in a former doctor’s house, costing him the sum of £181 and 4 shillings to do so.
This proved to be so successful that 9 years later he purchased 63 New Bond Street in London. These premises still form part of the famous Fenwick London store today.
The young man’s recipe for success was to follow the then Parisian concept of a department store, combining all shopping needs under one roof. The British buying public loved the idea, and the success of the store was virtually guaranteed.
7. Dover Street Market
Located in the street of the same name, Dover Street Market is a concept and fashion store created by Rei Kawakubo of Comme de Garcons. This Mayfair store is THE place to come if you wish to purchase amazing designer clothing.
Known locally as simply DSM, the store is constantly changing its designs – and this isn’t just the fashion displays.
Expect walls, doors and corridors to alter as well… The store certainly isn’t the cheapest place to shop in London, but it could well be one of the most interesting.
When you tire searching through the immaculate racks and piles of clothing, head to the top floor where you can relax in the Rose Bakery for delights such as coffee, soup and a wonderful cake selection.